Wisconsin Governor Signs Bill Allowing Teachers To Request HIV Tests After Exposure to Students’ Blood
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) on Friday signed a bill (SB 230) that will allow teachers to require students to take an HIV test if a teacher is exposed to their blood, the AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (Richmond, AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/17). The Wisconsin Legislature in March approved the measure that will add teachers, support staff and other school personnel to the list of firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and health care professionals who are permitted to request HIV tests for people whose blood they come in contact with while working. Under the measure, sponsored by state Sen. Carol Roessler (R), a teacher or other educational employee will have to prove that precautions were taken to prevent exposure and obtain certification from a physician that exposure had occurred. In addition, the educator will have to agree to take an HIV test within a specified period of time (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/19). Roessler proposed the bill after learning about a case in which a teacher was exposed to blood from a student and was not able to require the student to take an HIV test because the student's parents refused, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The Wisconsin Education Association Council, Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association and Milwaukee Public Schools supported the measure (Forster, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 4/17). Privacy International Director Simon Davies called the law a "wild exaggeration" of HIV fears, adding that the measure would allow teachers to discriminate against gay students by forcing them to take HIV tests, according to the AP/Pioneer Press. Roessler said that an individual's right to know if they have been exposed to HIV "outweighs everything," the AP/Pioneer Press reports. "These are life and death situations," Roessler said, adding, "The victim's safety must prevail" (AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.